“Love someone and see the face of God,” the Monsignor says as he welcomes Jean Val Jean to his final sanctuary. It was a lesson well learned and finally understood by a man who had survived unspeakable horror and tragedy. A man who made a fatal decision many years before – to forgive.
The complexity of the characters and moral dilemmas created at each turn of the plot is what has made Victor Hugo‘s “Les Miserables” so enduring. The story of Jean Val Jean is ironic and liberating, deeply moving and touched with grace. It is the story of one man’s struggle to make sense of injustice, cruelty and hatred. After many trials and tribulations, he must finally face himself and make a choice so fundamental, that it will direct the trajectory of the rest of his life.
Does he believe that God is love? If the answer is no, than revenge, hatred and fear will follow him until his last breath. If the answer is yes, however, then all decisions made after that moment in time will guide him on a different path. To freedom, to liberty, to joy. And finally, to love.
It is a fundamental decision you must make, if you are to live your life as it was meant to be lived. Such a simple question with such profound consequences.
Is God love? Or is love God?
All I have to do is look into a baby’s eyes, so innocent yet so wise, to know that God is love. Or to hear the wind singing through the tops of the trees, causing leaves to shimmer and fall. Or bite into a juicy peach, sweet with sunshine, to know the answer. We are surrounded by God’s love, whether we acknowledge it or not. It is there, connecting us by an invisible thread that spins the patchwork squares of our life into unique quilts.
In calling his masterpiece, “Les Miserables,” Victor Hugo was reminding us that beneath the surface of life, underneath the cruelty and unsympathetic actions, lies a river of love, waiting to be brought to the surface. Misery may exist on the surface, but underneath even the hardest man lies a heart that can be opened — by love.
In the end, what matters is the love we shared. And if you also see the Face of God, then you truly are blessed.